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tv   Mosaic World News  LINKTV  November 7, 2012 7:30pm-8:00pm PST

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well, when we were in san francisco, we met a lawyer, harrison shepherd, who's making quite a national reputation for himself, because he is coming out to say that the legal profession has it all wrong, that instead of being a profession that is fighting, that is constantly suing, that is constantly creating tension and conflict in society, what lawyers are meant to do is to understand those ethical patterns of action, see how conflicts can be resolved, and in fact, he goes so far as to say that the legal profession, essentially, is a spiritual practice. pretty far afield, but i thought, you know, why don't we do a shocker- imagine having a lawyer speak about his profession as a spiritual practice. so if we could, let's just take a few minutes and listen to harrison shepherd, our lawyer friend in san francisco.
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>> you know, originally, traditionally, there were three professions. there were three professions- they were the professions of theology- the clergy; the profession of medicine- the doctors; and the profession of law. and these three professions, what it means to be a professional is to profess your faithfulness to a particular service to humanity- to spirit, body, and community, the human community. there's no doubt that law, in its highest function, is designed to bring order and community out of diversity and disorder. and the thing that i'm most concerned about in terms of what's happened to american legal practice is that the ideal of the rambo lawyer who is advocating a winner-take-all solution for a client is in fact a betrayal of the deepest roots of what the law is.
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one way i've said that is that i think that lawyers really should be- and are, ideally- the secular ministers of american democracy. our society, which is one of increasing diversity and increasing conflict, certainly needs a professional group able to see the harmony that can be distilled out of this diversity- that is the function of the american lawyer at his or her best. and to the extent that the legal profession has become simply a warriors' profession, it's lost that most fundamental ideal of what human law is supposed to be. >> harrison, we're talking about a very ideal social vision. if this could happen, in your perspective, how would society look? >> if the american republic, if our democratic republic is going to survive well into its third century, we need to find more effective ways of reconciling this diversity, and that's the function that i see of the american lawyer.
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if that function is successfully achieved, i think we can anticipate a third or a fourth great century of american democracy and preservation of our liberties. if, however, that function is not followed through, then as alexis de toteville said- the great student of democracy in america- the likelihood is this country will either be moved to anarchy or authoritarian rule. so the short answer to your question is, yes, i think that lawyers play an indispensable role with this model of legal practice toward the harmonizing and reconciling of diversity in this country, and the continued prosperity of the american experiment. >> grisham, right down the line. >> what we're seeing here is he's a lawyer, but i think what he's speaking about is a problem in terms of the ethical dimension and the social dimension that this particular country's facing, and that is diversity.
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you mentioned that that particular airline said, "i don't like diversity." well, unfortunately, folks, if you live in this particular country, you're going to see more and more diversity. and i think what harrison shepherd is saying is that all the professions have to begin to find ways of overcoming these differences. to put it in our religious terms and our ethical terms, we can no longer rely on separate or disparate definitions of proper patterns of action- we have to begin to see, in a broader, wider range about how it is that we can live a harmonious life. and the law is obviously just one of them, but- susanna, fire away. >> i was going to say, actually, my daughter received an award when she graduated law at vanderbilt two years ago that very much characterizes- >> she's a lawyer? >> yes. i'm very proud of her, as a matter of fact. and this award was the only one that was voted on by the entire faculty, and it spoke- i don't remember the exact words now, but it was something not- not the student that's in your class who not only had sort of a clear
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and good grasp of the profession of law, but who was also most likely to practice it with something- and mercy. mercy. and it spoke very much to the ideals that this gentleman is talking about. there are lawyers in law schools who do that- there are. there is something- it's just more pervasive than any of that. i think one thing that makes our people lawsuit happy has to do with the whole climate we live in. you know, i still have recipes that call for a one-pound can of tomatoes- there aren't any anymore. they went to 15 ounces. no, but i mean, it just- it has the feeling of being cheated, of being ripped off- that the prices continue to climb, and the size of the cans continues to shrink. i think now what used to be a one-pound can of tomatoes is about 13 and a quarter ounces. now, you just run into that all the time- the idea that more and more stores
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like walgreens and some of these big ones, they only want to stock the items that have a very short shelf life. so if you happen to be in the habit of using something that's maybe not the fastest-mover of a maybe a medium mover, or heaven forbid, a slow mover, you know, you can't get it anymore. and i think when you live with this kind of- a mind set that no one's really thinking of you- we're not customers anymore who are always right; we're consumers, whose mission, in the eyes of the television commercial, is to buy, buy, buy, consume, consume, consume. yeah, we're not vacuum cleaners for what they produce. >> but what's your point? i mean, that's capitalism. i mean, we're not talking about an ethical issue here unless you're talking about- the difference between a spiritual approach to commerce versus a greedy approach to commerce, for want of another word. >> okay. greedy's bad, in my view. >> ah! ah-ha! in your view, it's bad. but that's what we're talking about- right and proper action. >> okay. and here's the other thing. one of the best documented times when christ lost his cool was not the samaritan woman
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at the well who'd had a few husbands- divorce was not that major for him; it wasn't good, but it wasn't anything that- he talked to her, sent her off as a disciple. but it was cheating merchants at the temple, and he made a very definite physical- one of the few times that you saw him engaged in what you would call violent behavior. >> but you're talking about one religious- >> yeah, but that is the exact kind of thing that i'm talking about with merchants right now. >> but you're talking about one religious viewpoint, or one- is that christianity? >> no. i think it's in the old testament where you're going to find good measure is shaken down and running over. >> well, how does a daoist appropriate that, or how does a buddhist, you know, view that? how do some sects of the muslim practices view that? no matter what we do here,
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we're trying to find some commonality about whether there is an ultimate good and an ultimate right, or whether we're going to accept cultural diversity, and all the religious practices that that kind of environment will propagate. >> and let me jump in there to try to- to put it in the framework of the class. that is the difficulty. that is the difficulty, because we have, you know, from an ethical point of view, where we're moved towards an understanding that is inclusive- we're being asked to treat other human beings in a way that is not so self-centered. but both of you, actually, i think are saying very similar things, which is there seems to be a problem in that inherent selfishness finds its way into any culture in any religion. what you're saying, susanna, really strikes me with the law profession, is that if you're- and we're back to the experiential dimension-
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if you conceive of yourself as the spoke in the wheel, you're the hub, the world revolves around you and everybody else is going to ultimately be after you, then it's very difficult to not take the newspapers, to not want to find a way to get ahead, to jump ahead. but you know, that's the way it is in society. warren, go ahead; you've had your hand waving. >> i always hear that this is a very litigious society that we live in, but my experience has led me to believe that there's not enough litigation. i have known many people over the years who had cases who were really abused by doctors- mostly doctors- and would not sue them. but i mean, it was a clear case of neglect or malpractice. and i think some people i think cannot sue because, you know, the law is against them or something. but i know two people that had dead-bang malpractice
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committed on them and they wouldn't sue- real problems. >> let me show you one other- i knew we had other graphics. i just said we'd finished the graphics, but i knew there was one more set of graphics i want to bring up that i think touches on these issues of okay, well, how are we going to resolve these? you know, how might we begin to think about ways to rectify this? i'm not saying it's the answer, but it's a way to begin to at least approach a problem, the kinds of problems, the facts or the anger or the selfishness that we see, and see if there isn't a way to sort it out ethically - at least the way that religion presents it. the ethical process- this is something that occurs in all societies, and if you can kind of sense this, it's something every single person in this room has been through. the process goes something like this: our patterns of action, our teaching, our upbringing create a sense of obligation-
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how should we act? and to go back to this interesting exchange we had here, it's confusing, because we get two different kinds of patterns, especially in a society like this. now religion may step in, whether it's christianity in our society predominantly or islam or buddhism or daoism, they may give you a different sense of obligation. nevertheless, following up on obligation comes responsibility- if you're obligated to do something, then you have the responsibility in order to act on that. but we find that for whatever reason- you know, whether we want to go theological and say it's simply original sin or we're just selfishness or, from an evolutionary point of view, it's survival of the fittest. nevertheless, the third step in this is dissonance- it's kind of the opposite of harmony. we do not live up to our obligation, we do not follow through on our responsibilities, and it puts us into a state
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of wrong, of guilt, and anxiety. and one of the frightening things is in our current society, we're finding younger and younger people grow up who don't have that sense of dissonance, who can do the most frightening kinds of acts. nevertheless, you have this sense of dissonance. ethical process ends then with religion in particular, but society, whether through punishment, through law or whatever, needs to step in and find some way of harmonizing, some kind of harmonizing mechanism in order to do this. a classic one in roman catholicism is confession- those of you who are from that tradition know that here's a ritual possibility for going through and confessing- and that relieves you, brings you back into harmony. so what may be missing in our society- you know, the thing that may be creating such negativity from an ethical point of view- is, you know, first, we may not have any clear definition of what obligation and responsibility entails.
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that leaves open a wide range of one person's dissonance is another person's good time- you know, you have that kind of element going on. and then finally, how do you- what means do we have? you know, i'm thinking about- you've seen the things in the paper about the super maximum security prisons; i mean, solitary confinement- is this the way to go? punishment- all these issues raise up. now the question is, in a religiously diverse society, how do we go about doing this kind of thing? we've all had experiences of this, of guilt coming on. i remember when i was a kid- perhaps you did something like this; you know, seven, eight years old, nine years old, i don't know what- hanging around, as boys will do, you know, getting in trouble on a saturday. we decided to go out to the shopping center- didn't have shopping malls then- and we were going to shoplift, you know, to try it out. so we went in and got a yo-yo and got a water gun and got some lighter fluid because we were going to burn some ants later and that kind of stuff.
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and in the act, "ooh, we got away with it." but bam! you know, about 9:00 at night, you know, you wake up in bed, "i stole"- you know, you broke that pattern, you're in dissonance, you're in guilt. and i went to my mother and i said, "don't tell my father, but i stole." and she said, "here, dad, listen to this!" so there had to be some kind of- you know, there had to be some way of redemption. so the next morning, yeah, he calls the other kids' fathers, we get trooped down to the store, and we have to apologize and make amends. now as bad as- that was okay, though, because that feeling of i've really violated a rule exists and we've all been through that kind of thing. where does that come from? well, maybe it's part instinctive, maybe it's part training. i think the issue that's difficult and harrison shepherd raises here is that the major professions, particularly law professions, ought to be working towards finding a way of bringing people who are in a state of dissonance because they disagree
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over responsibility and obligation- in a major way- how do you bring them back into the fold. what role does religion play in that? a difficult one. but you know, you're all well-educated people, and certainly leaders of the media and newspapers, we know how intense these ethical disagreements are, and how strong a role, particularly in our culture, conservative christianity plays in trying to define what all these proper patterns of actions are. so it's a difficult situation. one more roll-in we have in the class, and then we're going to just follow it on out here with the questions. professor robert moore makes a fascinating statement. he is the president of the institute for world spirituality; he's a jungian psychoanalyst; he's a professor at chicago theological seminary. we were able to catch hold of him just after a conference that he'd had with this world spirituality
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center that he's directing, and he just nails it down in this short interview that unless religion- and your good comment about, well, is it buddhist religion, is it daoist, is it christianity?- unless religions which have been, for better or for worse, the guiding force in determining ethical patterns of action, unless they begin to come together first, and work with other aspects of society, well, it's another doomsday scenario, that we'rere just simply not gog to make it, not just as a nation, but as perhaps even a species. he went a bit longer in our private talk after the interview, but this is an educated man, very well known, quite active in things such as cult activity. but he doesn't see the survival of any kind of orderly human race unless we figure out collectively as a species, globally,
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some kind of way of agreeing on ethical patterns of action. now i say that because clearly, as we're in the ethical dimension and moving towards the social dimension, we want to see just how much impact religious thinking has. and its diversity is fine- you know, i'm not going to throw anybody out for playing because gsu's diverse- but at the same time, real appreciation of multiculturalism means finding, on a continuum, someplace where we can begin to agree on what proper patterns of action are, at least at a minimum level, or we're just going to continue blowing up each other's buildings and other horrific acts. so anyway, let me let professor robert moore share his great wisdom with us. >> it always has amazed me that people of faith of the different traditions have done so poorly in organizing
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for cooperative action toward justice and toward the sustainable human future. the encouraging thing to me is that in 1993, right here in chicago, a thing happened which the media did not really widely report- that is, for the first time in history, the religious leaders that we could locate came together at the world parliament- the centennial of the world parliament religions. and rather than merely wanting to get together and discuss the niceties of different points of view theologically in terms of their belief systems, they together raised the question, "what can we do together to begin to try to secure our human future, and an ecological, sustainable environment?" that was a miracle, in many ways, in my view. i'm a kind of a hard-nosed person, i'm not easy to impress, but as i stood out in grant park
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down here with the dalai lama and thousands of religious leaders from every one of these spiritual tribes that we could find, from the tibetan buddhists to the roman catholics to the wiccans and the neopagans and all of the various groups that joined together, and there in one accord, asking the right question, for the first time in history, and that is, "how can we cooperate to turn a corner in human history?" and through the work of the institute for world spirituality, and other groups like us around the world, we are now trying to bring people of faith, men and women of good will together to face what must be done if our grandchildren and their children and their children's children- as the indigenous peoples of the earth often say, "we have an obligation
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to the children of the seventh generation in front of us." >> now that's a perspective that's asking a hell of a lot- if we can say hell in a religion class- but it's asking a lot. but the thing there is i don't know where else to go with it. you know, we study religious diversity, we're well down through the semester, we've listened to wonderful, beautiful statements from believers of lots of different faiths- you know, we'll be looking more at different religious organizations in the social dimension. but finally, as this gentleman said in a very short period of time, "wait a second, folks. if we're talking about the ethical dimension, if we really want to focus on our survival when you look at a world and we come to an end of a century that has been so bloody and very often it has been religion that has played a role in that, what are we going to do folks? you know, when are we going to sit down? how are we going to come to do it?" and i love his observation
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that the religious people have to come in, first off, join in a conversation- not just how neat it is that there are buddhists and there are christians, and you know, not that wonderful cross-cultural thing that's also very important, but where do we find common ground? and so this gentleman has set up this institute for world spirituality, which will function along those lines. we may get to hear from him a little bit later in the semester. he speaks about the fact that nobel prize winners in the last go-around had a special meeting with religious leaders on the level of the dalai lama because they take it that seriously. and here, we're not talking about social sciences and humanitarians, necessarily, but the physicists, the hard scientists see the need to sort out what we are talking in this class as those ethical patterns of action. in other words, it may not be so much that we create a heaven on earth- you know, that we're going to have this mystical, beautiful, aesthetically perfect society; maybe we're just
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talking about, as he says, survival, and a place that our children's children's children, you know, will have an opportunity to survive. sure. >> and so much of the conflict is territorial. in israel, they want the land they feel god has given them, and then pakistanis want certain land, and yugoslavia, they want the land they had before world war ii. so a lot of it is territorial, and religion is shoved aside. >> you know, the nationalism- you know, you want to talk about "isms," but the rise of nationalism in our human cultural experience has been, you know, a two-edged sword, to say the least. and that brings up- it's a wonderful segue into our next class because we have a whole rather lengthy segment on how land in israel- sovereignty,
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identity, relationship- is linked to land. and for those of us who have grown up in the united states, this is very hard for us to realize- it's not something that's necessarily been challenged- but there, it's such a link. and we see people, you know, that form an identity around nationalism. now you see, maybe that's a very powerful way that people create identity and relationship. you see what's going on in the united states in the militia movement that we talked about and some of these patriot movements, in which their focus is the evil united states government taking our land away- this is our land, it's our constitution. so these ideas about land and religion are very, very volatile. i'm certainly not prepared. i mean, that's why i'm glad we have a robert moore, who's obviously well-funded, who started an institute at a prestigious place like the university of chicago to head up the parade, because i think someone needs to head up the parade. how you, you know,
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disarm the kinds of intensity about land we see in kashmir between the pakistanis and the indians- how do we disarm that? you know, we saw what happened in the serbian area- these are the tensions- and land is part of it; you know, land is part of it. but as we'll see when we look at the middle east closer, there's also that religious element, and to have really sat down, as you'll see in the next class, and talk with on-the-street muslims about the threat of the western secular values- patterns of action- upon the islamic way of life, you can't blame them for the anger that they feel; it's truly a threat. we've heard in the media that the united states has been called the great satan or something along that line, but in many ways, to their way of thinking, it is. so the challenges are immense, and all we can say, as we move through this first class on the ethical dimension, as we so often do,
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is just- let's- you know, you sort of stand back and say, "look at the power of this kind of dimension, in its religious form, in its political form, as it affects our human relationships. other good comments you might have? yeah, susanna? >> i do think that parliament of world's religions was organized religion at its best. and i think that the increase of diversity, not just in our country, which is the one, of course, we're in a position to notice the most, but in every country, i think it's happening. and so if- anyone who isn't feeling at least a little bit uncomfortable probably is not in touch with what's going on. >> well, said, yeah. >> deep changes are happening all over the world that way, and i think both of these gentlemen are correct- it's going to have to be a very different kind of mind set for the world, and a global philosophy, a spirituality, in a sense of being able to go beyond just the desire
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to acquire more. >> it's been an uncomfortable time to be alive. i don't know how- i don't want to speak for everyone, but it's just generally not been comfortable. sure. >> but that energy- the moving toward wholeness, or the sense that the world religions want to try to move toward wholeness, as stated by their leadership, is the same kind of energy on the other side of the coin, that moves for divisiveness. it's where the roman catholic church, post-vatican ii, suddenly wants to revert to pre-vatican ii types of practices. it's where the episcopalian- let's say the episcopal and lutheran leadership either rejects or accepts gay marriages, same-sex marriages,
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and others move toward the more conservative elements. and i can see that that aim to wholeness, which- you know, personally, couldn't be better- is also among the followers- just good reason to create another- maybe sect is too strong a word- but certainly something that's down a slightly different path than what the mother belief is. >> and that's such a great segue into two or three classes down we see exactly why we have sect and cult formation. but your point is really well taken, that there's two dynamics here with this quest for unity. one is the dynamic of "let's be unified," but there's fear with that, because what happens is as you get unified, you lose your uniqueness.
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now we want to see how that plays out in israel in the next class, where we're going next.
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